To state the obvious: We are living in strange times. Most of us who have devoted our lives in the service of religious leadership are focused on the same question: How does our spiritual community re-enter public life?
By now, all of our Christian denominations have sent guidelines informing pastors and congregational leaders about things leaders should plan for when doors are open again for public worship. My own denomination – the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) – sent out a check list of 25 points. Then, in conversations with the health officers of Sheridan County, a few more concerns were added to the list. It feels a bit overwhelming. Who would have guessed that worshiping God was so complex? Ah, the things we take for granted in normal boring worship.
Actually, there is a fun aspect to these re-entry challenges as we look to the future. If there was ever a time to make the changes you have been thinking about making – NOW IS THE TIME! Hey, we have been out of worship going on the eighth Sunday. Most of my people can’t even remember the sermon from last Sunday. For that matter, I can’t even remember the sermon from last Sunday. If you want to change, now is the time.
The deeper question that some of us have been playing with is: What are we going to look like in the future? None of us can answer that question just yet. But, it is fun to play with that question. What will be the new normal?
I would like to think we will look more compassionate, more committed to justice for all, more devoted to mercy for the sick, more appreciative of human kindness, more grateful to the providence of God. Alas. People are people. Christian Scripture makes it clear we fall short of the glory of God; and, as a Christian pastor, I have learned that a part of surviving and thriving in the parish is to keep a low anthropology. Nevertheless, like you, I hope. I do hope the Holy One will inspire us to make a few much needed changes for the good of all. Most likely, those changes will come about in the personal. In your life and mine. So, give it more thought. Keep playing with the questions. What does your future look like, the new normal for you? Hmmm. . . . Ponder it. We shall see.
Pastor Doug Goodwin serves as the team leader of our Spiritual Life Team and pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Sheridan, Wyoming